To coin a phrase, “There’s not a straight road anywhere”…!
Firstly, on my last post I wondered whether I’d forgotten anything off my checklist…erm, yep! Checking your tire pressures when you’re running late is just bad planning, and if one goes you’re running extremely late. As it stood I arrived at Red Funnel ferries with 25 minutes to park up and get sorted so I had spare.
Around thirty riders disgorged themselves from the ferry at Cowes on a range of vehicles from tandems to 2015 edition Cervelho’s – it was going to be an interesting day. The ride organiser suggested we split into three groups: fast, middle and not so middle. I opted for the fast group.
This worked well for the first stint and despite the fact we climbed and dropped around 300 metres in about 30km I was enjoying the challenging ride and pace. The conditions we’re marvelous! No wind, clear skies and warm sun but no hot. The shell jacket came off about 20 minutes into the ride. (Glad I didnt bother with the big gloves).
The first stop was at Adgestone Vinyard which was a lovely spot although I dont think they were expecting 30 riders to pretty much all turn up at once. Oh well, at least the pain of going in the ‘fast’ group meant I didnt have to wait for my glass of water (yes, only water).
Next came around 40km of more up and down than you can shake a stick at! It didnt help that my chain came off 10 minutes into the leg and everyone dis-appeared apart from one other rider. Anyhow, the chain went back on and we attempted to catch back up with the main group. This never happened, just the odd glimpse going round a corner in the distance. Also, the other rider (who we’ll call Colin) was falling away fast. I vaguely recalled a conversation with another one of the ‘fast’ group who said he was surprised ‘Colin’ opted for the fast group.
Having not completed many group rides in the past I was in a strange position. Hang on for Colin and loose the group? Or, crack on, catch them and on to glory. In hindsight I incorrectly chose the latter. Colin suggested I meet him at the top of the hill which I assumed was code for “later man”! About 30 minutes down the road, riding on my own, I thought I may have taken a wrong turn? I didn’t have a proper GPS (note to self) and the thought of cycling back to where I may have boo boo’d was too much. I fired up Google maps on my phone, guessed where I’d join up with the route and rode to that point. On the way I picked up the sign posted route we were supposed to be on and wondered for quite a while whether I’d taken a short cut and was ahead of everyone. It didn’t matter because after an hour I bumped into a fellow rider, Paul, riding towards me who said “STOP”!! He’d lost group one and, on following the signs, rode into roadworks. A quick recce meant he had to head back to the main road and then there he was riding towards me. I was relieved to see a familiar face!
We cracked on to Yarmouth Pier and lunch; our second stop. A ham and cheddar baguette followed by a strong coffee and a slab of carrot cake were demolished in short order. By then the twinge of cramp and fatigue had started to creep into my afternoon. In the middle third each km was averaging 10 metres +/- and HR was 71% of max but the detail shows gains of 51m or losses of 70m in elevation and max heart rate of over 90% on individual kms. Yarmouth Pier cafe was a welcome break. I’d had to get off my bike earlier and stretch out my quads as the cramp as beginning to grow in annoyance.
I hadn’t finished my carrot cake yet and the lead rider for group one was raring to go! I reluctantly smashed the rest of my cake, coffee and got on my bike only to realise I’d forgotten my helmet. I rode back and decided to stop and join group two. Good decision! We set off at a decent pace and finished off the last 20-25km in style and control – the perfect end to a nice day in the saddle. Followed by a well earned beer waiting for the ferry back to Southampton and a peanut butter sandwich.
On reflection, if the terrain was flat and I measured my output I think I could have completed the whole ride with the nutrition I took with me. However, the terrain was the worst I’d endured and for all intents and purposes the pace was flat out. Plan ahead, and get there early – right!?